MP’s home also subject of bankruptcy restriction in 2008 – yet she did not declare 2015 bail-out that saved parliamentary candidacy
As the SKWAWKBOX showed exclusively last week, Tom Watson’s driver and fixer Bill Gavan boasted that ‘we’ – he and unnamed others – had arranged a bail-out of tens of thousands of pounds for Bradford West MP Naz Shah when she was first a parliamentary candidate.
Shah, he said, was facing a court case to declare her bankrupt over an unpaid legal debt – which could have made her ineligible to stand as a candidate or to sit as an MP if elected.
Although the SKWAWKBOX first put details and questions about the origin of the money – and her failure to declare the sum in her parliamentary register of interests – to Ms Shah in October last year, she did not respond.
Now the SKWAWKBOX can reveal that the 2015 case was not the first bankruptcy action that Naz Shah had faced – as the land registry records for her property reveal that a bankruptcy notice and restriction were placed against the house in 2008:
Ms Shah did not respond to a question about the debt involved in the 2008 case and whether it had been repaid.
When fitness instructor Salma Mir won her case against Naz Shah for unpaid fees, Naz Shah’s letters to the court revealed her inability to pay the debt – and her desperation as she realised that she could be forced to sell her house to pay the debt.
A hearing was held in June 2014. Shah failed to attend and judgment was made against her for an initial sum of over £15,000, plus costs:
Shah wrote to the court with a series of excuses for her failure to appear and a plea for the judgment to be set aside. Her statement revealed that she was financially insecure and ‘fragile’:
The judge was not persuaded by Naz Shah’s case and in July 2014 rejected her application to set the judgment aside.
In November of that year – less than four months before Shah was imposed on Bradford West Labour members as their general election candidate – a ‘Final Charging Order’ was issued instructing that she must pay an increased sum, including costs and interest:
Shah responded by again trying to have the judgment set aside, telling the court that she was representing herself as there were no funds to pay for legal advice.
In her application letter, she put on record her realisation that failure to pay the debt could result in the forced sale of her home – and her recognition that a bankruptcy order would affect her future employment prospects:
She was again unsuccessful.
Less than three months later, in 2 March 2015 – after reportedly coming last in the vote among Bradford West Labour members – Naz Shah was imposed on the local party as its candidate by Labour’s National Executive Committee. Her court-mandated debt to Salma Mir was still unsettled.
Parliamentary law states that bankruptcy will disqualify a candidate or MP who has a ‘Bankruptcy Restrictions Order’ (BRO) made against them. Given the continued failure to pay her debt to Salma Mir and the 2008 bankruptcy order noted in the Land Registry record, such an order must have seemed a serious possibility.
Nine days later and less than three months after telling the court that neither she nor the business could afford legal representation, let alone to pay the funds ordered, Naz Shah made a bank transfer of £27,552.52 to settle the debt:
Naz Shah was aware that her home was at risk. She was aware that a bankruptcy order would affect her job prospects. She had just been selected to stand for election for a position that she would not have been allowed to hold if the court made a BRO against her – and she had told the court that she was in dire financial straits.
Bill Gavan was subsequently recorded boasting that he and others – ‘we’ – had raised the funds to pay Shah’s debt and rescue her candidacy. That conversation can be heard here.
Yet she has never declared the receipt – or the source – of the £27,552.52 in the parliamentary Register of MPs’ Financial Interests, whose purpose is to ensure transparency concerning potential influence over an MP’s actions, words and votes.
The SKWAWKBOX put the following questions to Ms Shah several days ago:
- who gave or loaned you the funds?
- did you repay the sum and if so when and to whom?
- did you repay the person or entity who made the 2008 application and if so, when?
- do you deny the assertion by Tom Watson’s driver Bill Gavan that he and others raised the funds for you to save your candidacy?
- given that the Mir case was the second bankruptcy application against you, did you feel that the risk of a Bankruptcy Restrictions Order that would have ruled you out as a candidate/MP was higher?
- given that your house was at risk as well as your candidacy, the bail-out must have created a considerable sense of indebtedness to whomever had arranged it. Since the reason for the register of MPs’ financial interests is transparency around potential influence over an MP’s votes or actions, why didn’t you declare the donation/loan?
- by what means and via which person or entity were the funds transferred to you?
- were you ever asked to vote, speak or act in any way by the people who arranged the bail-out, or in connection with it?
She had, again, not responded by the time of publication.
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